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 Defending ESA failures, House committee on resources 9/27/05


Some of America's so-called environmental organizations are running huge deficits in rational explanations for defending the failed Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, so some have resorted to (or continued) running shameless advertisements like the following:


Using these scare tactics, of course, is much easier than defending the fact that the ESA has only recovered 10 - or less than 1% -  of the species on its list after more than three decades of implementation.  It's probably even harder for them to defend that the fact that 60% of all listed species are either "declining" or in "unknown" status.  (Yes, they're either dying off or we have no idea how they're doing.) And believe it or not, 3% are actually "believed to be extinct."

The (not so) bright side of things is that 6% are "improving" and the remaining third of all species are classified as "stable." But this "stable" status doesn't necessarily reflect successes of the ESA.  Instead, it is often the result of corrections to original data error. (As in, "Oops - just found a million of them - guess these critters aren't really endangered."). *Data from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service*

Nonetheless, most of the environmental community will tell you the ESA has been 99% successful.  (Yes, even when presented with the above statistics.)  Why?  "Increasingly it seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief," is how author and M.D. Michael Crichton might explain it.

But not all environmental organizations are completely out to lunch and/or driven solely by fundraising and partisan politics.

The Peregrine Fund, for example, is actually dedicated to species recovery.  Unlike enviro-lobbyists who litter Capitol Hill with silly graffiti, The Peregrine Fund is a hands-on and non-political environmental organization - one of the few that has played a key role in the successful recovery and delisting of an endangered species.  While other groups tell you how the ESA "has worked" from their offices inside the Beltway, the Peregrine Fund will tell you how its practical application in the field must change to make it a truly effective law.

According to the Fund's president, the current ESA is often unnecessarily bureaucratic, punitive and inhibitive of real species recovery efforts.  Click here to read what he believes must be done to improve it for species recovery.

When you're finished, re-read the bipartisan Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (TESRA) of 2005, note that it has 70-plus cosponsors from 30 states around the country, and ask yourself why certain groups calling themselves "environmental" are on the wrong side of updating a 33 year-old law and improving its abysmal rate of species recovery.  Perhaps they "enjoy" all the conflict it causes now. 

Brian J. Kennedy

Communications Director

House Committee on Resources





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